Self-regulation and personality: how interventions increase regulatory success, and how depletion moderates the effects of traits on behavior

J Pers. 2006 Dec;74(6):1773-801. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00428.x.


Self-regulation is a highly adaptive, distinctively human trait that enables people to override and alter their responses, including changing themselves so as to live up to social and other standards. Recent evidence indicates that self-regulation often consumes a limited resource, akin to energy or strength, thereby creating a temporary state of ego depletion. This article summarizes recent evidence indicating that regular exercises in self-regulation can produce broad improvements in self-regulation (like strengthening a muscle), making people less vulnerable to ego depletion. Furthermore, it shows that ego depletion moderates the effects of many traits on behavior, particularly such that wide differences in socially disapproved motivations produce greater differences in behavior when ego depletion weakens the customary inner restraints.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ego
  • Exercise*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Models, Psychological
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Personality
  • Personality Assessment
  • Research Design
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Temperament